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tv   [untitled]    August 12, 2011 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT

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hello i'm starving in washington d.c. and here's what's coming up tonight on the big picture shortly after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the fukushima plant in japan back in march i set out with nuclear physicist michio kaku as part of our conversations with great minds to talk about the consequences of what was unfolding in japan and the dangers of nuclear energy as we know today five months removed from the quake and tsunami japan is still dealing with a nuclear nightmare that's why tonight we'll revisit my conversation with michelle
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and reexamine the ongoing nuclear scenario on the other side of the planet. for tonight's conversations the great minds i'm joined by a brilliant physicist new york times bestselling author a man who can explain the most complex scientific problems and ways the rest of us can understand not only is he a professor of theoretical physics at the city university of new york he's also the host of the t.v. show cypher ice science physics of the impossible on the science channel as well as the host of two radio programs broadcast on over one hundred forty stations its current work is focused on finishing einstein's project of creating a unified theory to explain how everything works in the universe. and he is this the co-founder of something called string field theory which will get into later
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his latest book is called physics of the future a science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year twenty one hundred pleased to welcome from los angeles a man on the cutting edge of science dr michelle cottle welcome. glad to be on the show thank you very much i'm very very glad to have you with us i understand that when you were eight years old you had an a if an a that's hard to do on this. that's right some people remember the instant that princess diana died i remember the instant when albert einstein guy he was in all the newspapers everyone was talking about the fact that he could not finish his greatest work it was to be the theory of everything an equation one inch long which would allow was too cold to read the mind of god one theory which would describe everything from the big bang formation of the stars the galaxy people maybe even love and i said to myself
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that's for me that's what i want to finish a unified field theory away and then with a string theory my recollection it's been some years with my recollection is that the the original objection of problem with it was that it required a ten to mention a multiverse or universe. if if you can translate that into english and tell us how you've solved that or how close you may be to that. fascinated by curious. string theory we think is it it is the leading and only candidate for a theory of everything it says that everything we see around this is nothing but little tiny vibrating rubber bands but when they vibrate in one mode it's an electron when you trying it and if i put it in another mode it turns into a neutrino or a cork or any of the thousands of subatomic particles we see so physics is nothing but the harmonies you can write on these tiny vibrating rubber bands chemistry is
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nothing but the melodies you can play on these interacting strings the universe is a symphony of strings and the mind of god that albert einstein wrote about would be cosmic news. sick cosmic music resonating through ten baby leavened hyperspace so you can imagine how controversial it is people were saying this is star trek multi-verse of universe that's right and now we have the larger and collider outside geneva switzerland that hopefully will test this theory maybe there are other universes and other dimensions. may be here the. a friend of mine who started out in physics and ended up in metaphysics. suggested the matter. sensually you know that i as an einstein equals mc squared that the amount of
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energy in matter is is you know math and you know just the speed of light squared and times the mass and and if you could then define that energy and look at the most subtle particle of energy that at that level the universe would be solid or at least would be filled and that most subtle energy might be something that we could describe as for consciousness you use the word love just a moment ago is that anything close to what you were talking about. well in the sense that we think the tiniest bit of space time to tiniest bit of matter is described by vibrating strings strings make music and the music of these strings is the epiphany of the realization that all the particles we see in nature are nothing but different notes out of five rating straight now the picture coming out of
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string theory you mention the multiverse but i picture is that we have a bubble we live on the skin of this bubble is that einstein and the bubble is expanding that's the big bang theory shake up a new wrinkle in all of this is that we think there are other bubbles out. there are other bubbles and when these bubbles collide they form larger bubbles that's called the big splat theory or these bubbles can pinch trough so we have a bubble bath of universes and that we think is where the big bang came from the big bang came from we think bubbles colliding with other bubbles bubbles visioning and half just like what you see in a bubble about that is the most diverse of universes. we started out by your opinion at the age of eight i understand also as a as a child you want to build a particle accelerator in your parents' garage and and that your parents have been
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interned in the concentration camps the roosevelt have put together their war two how how has all of that shaped your worldview. yeah it's true my parents were in a relocation can from one nine hundred forty two to nine hundred forty six but i was in the sputnik age the age when people said yes it's your duty to become a scientist and i was swept up by all the hype so when i was in high school i built an atom smasher a two point three million electron gold-beater try to accelerate or that i built in my mom's garage so one day i had my mom mom can i have permission to build an atom smasher in the garage and she said sure why not and they'll figure that they got the garbage well it weighed four hundred pounds it contained twenty two miles of copper wire it consumed six kilowatts of power every time i turned it on i blew out every single circuit breaker in the house and my poor mom every time the lights
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went out she would say where is the fuse box and then she would say why couldn't i have a son who plays basketball and maybe baseball and for god's sake why can't i find a nice japanese girlfriend well hey i can comply. because the accelerator got me into harvard in fact when i was in high school i had to smash or earn the attention of a comic i've been a comic business has called edward teller he's the father of the hydrogen bomb he took me under his wing and he arranged for me to get a scholarship to harvard and that set me off chasing after einstein's theory of everything. you you would talk about how politics is important in fact in your in your new book physics of the future there's. actually there's there's a whole bunch of things in here i'd love to talk to you about. but just in general and i know you've. heard you tell the story before about explaining physics to
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politicians in the context of religion. can you can you share that story with us and why in your mind politics as a theoretical physicist politics isn't working. well in one thousand nine hundred three we were going to build the largest particle accelerator the largest adler smasher of all time much bigger than the large hadron collider in geneva switzerland which is actually a piece sure the big one was called the super collider it was to be built as site the alice texas costing a leben billion dollars but then in the last day of hearings because their cost overruns one congressman said now wait a minute we'll we find god with your machine if so then i'll vote for it off the porpoises didn't know what to say how are we going to find god with a super collider so he said we're going to find the higgs goes on well you could
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hear the jaws hit the floor of the united states congress eleven billion dollars for another guy darn subatomic particle they took a vote and the machine was cancelled so ever since then we've businesses have been asking the question how should we have answered that question will we find god with your machine i would have answered it differently i would have said god i would never sign for symbols you ascribe to the deity this machine the super collider will take us as close as humanly possible to his greatest creation genesis this is a genesis machine here. celebrate the greatest event in the history of the universe its birth unfortunately we said expose on and our machine was cancelled and now a smaller version is going to geneva switzerland well and could you explain what's going to go what's going on in switzerland at the large hadron collider why that
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might be important for the rest of us and what is eed supposed. won't we have all these subatomic particles that we get by smashing atoms we smash up our protons we get couric speed had powers of subatomic particles and so we have a jigsaw puzzle has one piece missing in this case our puzzle and that's the higgs goes on there we hope to find with the large hadron collider but the c. string theory says that this jigsaw puzzle of particles is nothing but the lowest octave there's a higher octave the next arc of the string is called dark matter and dark matter we fake makes up most of the universe dark matter we think is ten times more plentiful than ordinary matter so every high school chemistry textbook is wrong every textbook says the universe is made out of adam's period end of story that's what the universe is made out of atoms we know realize that's wrong only four percent of the universe is made of atoms twenty three percent is made out of that invisible
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substance called dark matter which holds the galaxy together an invisible form of matter and beyond that seventy three percent of the universe is dark energy the energy of the big bang the energy that's driving the universe and making it expand so we're now beginning to realize that we are children we are children in terms of trying to understand the fundamental nature of reality but string theory gives us a comprehensive theory that would explain dark matter as a higher vibration and dark energy as the energy of nothing can i add. q. to be james ussher in the modern context four hundred years later when did it all begin. we think that thirteen point seven billion years ago there was this explosion that set off the universe by bray sions from that
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explosion are still with us today we have photographed that radiation still circulating around the universe and by golly it looks like an explosion and explosion in the microwave region and in fact if you want to hear that explosion night get a radio tuned between two frequencies and you hear that static right now a large portion of that static comes from the big bang so believe it or not the snow the static that you see in a t.v. set that white noise you hear on a radio or good fraction of that comes from genesis itself so we know that the big bang took place thirteen point seven billion years ago but then the question is what happened before the big bang but weinstein's theory breaks down at that point einstein's theory is useless we have to put it with period beyond einstein and that we think is strange theory in this string theory we have this picture of of global
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bubbles popping into existence bubbles colliding with other bubbles a multiverse of universes and so this means that our universe may not be alone and the large hadron collider will be full enough to perhaps probe the fifth dimension of this so we're hoping that the larger and collider one thess up to speed starting next year will be a particle enough to probe the fifth dimension and this will be the reconciliation of the quantum quantum theory which is a very small and relativity very large which are mathematically in some ways your irreconcilable. that's right in my book hyperspace parallel worlds and also my latest book physics of the future i write that we have two great paradigms in physics mother nature has a left hand and a right hand the left hand is relativity theory other very big black holes big bangs quasars relativity then on the other hand we have the theory of the very
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small atomic physics lasers subatomic particles adding smashers these two theories hate each other they have different mathematics different prism principles they do not like each other at all and they need attempt to try to put them together makes them explode we get nonsense only string theory has the capability of putting these two theories together like two pieces in a jigsaw puzzle we now realize that music is the paradigm that can combine the very big with a very small the music of strings professor had to take a short break afterwards i'd like to get into a conversation with you about what just happened in japan and nuclear power you wrote about it in your in your new book the physics of the future how science will shape human destiny you know do lives by the year twenty one hundred coming up more in just a few minutes more with professor micheel kaku as we continue our conversations
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with great minds. for. a few. you know sometimes you see the story and the scene so. you think you understand it and then you glimpse something else and you hear or see some other part of it and realize everything you saw if you don't i'm sorry because we.
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are back with more conversations with the great minds i'm joined by the theoretical physicist at the city university of new york professor machine. cofounder of string field theory and author of numerous bestselling books including his most recent physics of the future how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives whether you're twenty one hundred dr kaku you in your book i'm looking at page two nineteen here you have me begins a rather lengthy discussion of nuclear fission and you know the different ways that you two thirty eight is separated from future thirty five years and what we have just seen in japan. the consequence. i guess for the third arguably for the third time in a big way of our experimentation with what some would suggest is something
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beyond our our ability to deal with what's what is your take on what has happened that. we have to realize that what engineers plan for the future they very rarely plan for the once in a century ago and it's not going to happen in their lifetime it's not going to happen in their children's lifetime but hey sometimes it happens even if you don't plan for it look at katrina that hurricane the devastated new orleans was not supposed to happen for one hundred years and if you go back up. thousand years we had almost the identical tsunami and earthquake that ravaged northern japan but that was a thousand years ago that earthquake fault erupts every thousand years so it's that once in a century event which century will that fog line erupt well around that reactor they had a fifteen foot wall that could take most picky care of most tsunamis but the wave
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that came in was forty five feet tall completely overwhelmed all the safety systems and the generators were put in the basement i can't think of anything more stupid that to put the generators up a nuclear power plant in the basement where they can get flooded immediately and that's what happened so think of driving a car driving a car all of a sudden it spins out of control and your break stonework that's what happened in the opening minutes of that accident and then your radiator heats up and your radiator explodes past a hydrogen gas explosion which took place four times at the daiichi site then you find out that your gas tank is about to explode that's the meltdown so what do you do you drive your car into a river and that's what stopped the accident in the nick of time they put seawater
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seawater from the pacific ocean and dumped it right into the reactor preventing three simultaneous meltdowns in the nick of time they did it right before it was about to explode into three gigantic meltdowns and that's where we are today a crippled nuclear power plant it's stable all in the sense that a kind is also stable a small earthquake a pipe break could set it off because there's just hanging there by your fingernails so imagine being on a cliff and hanging like your fingernails and one by one your fingernails start to crack that's a situation. and i have the reactor right now it's stable but only if they can keep enough seawater in fresh water over the course a small earthquake could upset this entire scenario one of my best friends lives in tokyo his one of his kids not susan not sukkos here in the united states but the rest of his other daughters in tokyo with him and his wife and and we've been
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corresponding ever since this happened in japan they refer to as korea love and the way we refer to nine eleven and my friend tells me the media has been fairly reassuring and you know don't be so concerned and so here is a long way away from from. fukushima depending on how you would say here. are the citizens of tokyo safe and for that matter what will the consequence of this enormous amount of radiation that not only is going to the atmosphere but in particular into the ocean which is it seems to be the basis of much of our food chain most of what it what is this consequence going to be. will tokyo is one hundred fifty miles from the site the danger zone is out to perhaps fifty miles so the people of tokyo at are at present relatively safe however take a look at the consequence of that accident the workers the workers at the site are
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light somewhere i worriers they know that many of them are not going to make it out alive because the radiation fields are lethal but the managers the utility matters are incompetent i get this mental image of homer simpson operating a nuclear power plant totally overwhelmed by what is happening there we have contamination in the food the vegetable in the milk in the area around the reactor in the water it's a million times higher than the legal limit inside the water this is a never to. the spread especially because they're dumping tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water right into the pacific ocean and remember it's not stable yet they hope to stabilize it perhaps later this year but if they have to evacuate because of a secondary earthquake another pipe rate more radiation release if they have to
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evacuate from that site then the accident his in freefall the only thing preventing a meltdown right now are the firemen the firemen shooting hose water into the reactors this is not in any nuclear physics textbook this means that they're literally making it up as they go along you know textbook says that in case of an accident because the local fire department and shoot those water into a reactor would use in a partial meltdown state they're literally making it up as they go along sadly enough we are witnessing a science experiment and we are the guinea pigs what would you say to president obama who has traditionally supported nuclear power if if you were to ask your opinion of the future of energy and the future of nuclear energy in united states in particular. what's your pan has made the final skin bargain founds was this mythical figure who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited power japan has no oil
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it has no coal it's very little hydro power is thrown the dice with proust that is unlimited energy the only prices you're a soul and the united states now is undergoing a national debate about whether or not we should also undergo a fascia environ unlimited power the only prices you're a sole there's a new generation of reactors coming on the line they're called pebble bed gas coal reactors they are safer then the design you. used in japan that this sign is forty years old by the way the new design is safer in fact during a meltdown they claim that you can even go out to dinner go out to dinner take in a show and then take care of the meltdown but the bottom line is they melt and that's something that we have to take into consideration when i was in high school
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my advisor was edward teller father of the hydrogen bomb he was prone nuclear but he was fond of saying that nuclear energy is so dangerous it does not belong on the surface of the earth it belongs underground and if they had built that reactor underground that all they would have to do is put a manhole cover on it and walk away from it that's the files to bargain my advisor edward calorie clearly knew the dangers of nuclear power which could be handled if you take precautions like putting them underground unfortunately no one heeded his advice and so we have tragedies like what's emerging in japan today and obama has to confront this problem now in the united states what is the future of energy in in in the united states around the world i mean we've got this giant nuclear reactor ninety three million miles away from us seems like we should be making some
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use of that. well yes the sun is a nuclear power plant it is ninety three or so million miles away some people think it's still the safe to clear power plant precisely because it is ninety three million miles away but look at it this way also fuel prices are erratic but on general are going up but solar hydrogen renewables efficiency that curve is going down right now solar is about twice as expensive as fossil fuels but because costs of solar hydrogen are going down and the cost of fossil fuels are going up in about ten years they will enter. sakte at that point market forces come into play and market forces will begin to mass produce solar tax credits will bring down the cost and make it competitive so in a ten years' time frame even without nuclear energy we will be entering a solar hydrogen iran and then beyond that in my book physics of the future i
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mentioned that huge and power begins to open up in a twenty year time frame the french are building i try again to take huge a reactor which only operates on sea water we're talking about a reactor that produces no nuclear waste like what we have in sure pen helium gas is the only waste product and it is commercially valuable and russia the united states japan korea and the european union are backing the french reactor called the i-t. e. r. if it is successful then in twenty years time we could be entering the solar fusion here are independent of oil coal or even uranium. we have about two minutes left professor and your book physics of the future cover so much territory and artificial intelligence medicine now a psychology energy space travel what in your mind is the most important message
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you'd like to leave with our our viewers about your new book the physics of future . let me just make a few predictions there are hundreds of predictions i make in the book based on interviews with three hundred of the world's top scientists first of all the internet will be so cheap it will be inside your contact lens you will blink and you will go online your contact lens will recognize people spaces identify who they are print out the biography in your contact lens and if they speak chinese to you it will translate the chinese into english russian or whatever as based speak this is going to revolutionize the. way we interact with reality once our contact lenses are fully intelligent and have the internet on them also when we get a car cars will drive themselves google is investing millions of dollars to create a g.p.s. guided car a robotic car that drives itself without you ever touching the steering wheel
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and later perhaps by mid century when you interact with computers you'll do it mentally through the mind the mind is a milliwatt radio transmitter computers can now decide for the outlines of our thoughts and so by putting on a little helmet or an earpiece we'll be able to mentally control computers in our environment move things around just like in the science fiction novels in other words we will have the power of a greek god the ability to think and have our wishes come true extraordinary professor me chicago thank you so much for being with us tonight. thank you. what drives the world the fear mongering used by politicians who makes decisions to break through get through to be made who can you trust no one.

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